Empowering the Front Line through Continuous Improvement
Most organizations depend heavily on the human factor. Hospitals for example employ frontline workers who provide routine and essential services such as food services, administration, housekeeping and outpatient care. Frontline workers constitute 50 percent of the health care workforce, making them a key part of the health care system. It’s not only hospitals who employ frontine workers, manufacturing and service based companies do too. For this reason, frontline workers form an organization’s backbone and are the vehicle to meeting customer needs. Thus, to build a successful organization management and/or owners must empower, encourage, motivate and involve their frontine workers in their continuous improvement programs. After all, frontine workers are the ones doing the work every day thus they know a company’s processes better than anyone.
So, what steps should a company take to build a culture that empowers its frontline?
1. Drive out Fear
The organization should allow its employees to perform at their best by ensuring that they are not afraid to express ideas or concerns. It should be made clear to everyone that the goal is to achieve high quality by doing more of the right things not just doing things right and that the organization is not interested in blaming people when mistakes happen. After all people work in the system management created thus the system should be blamed not the people. Managers should also take it upon themselves to make employee feel valued, to be authentic and also approachable.
2. Use Training on the Job
Every organization needs to have standard procedures; this can help reduce inconsistencies and variation. Once employees are trained on a certain procedure and master it, it becomes very easy to maintain consistency. Allow employees to understand their roles in the “big picture. “Employees are not always motivated by financial rewards; employee recognition and sense of belonging are some of the aspects that motivate employees. Making employees understand how their roles contribute to the overall success of the company is essential and often motivates employees to participate in the organization’s continuous improvement programs. It is also Management’s responsibility to encourage staff to learn from one another, and provide a culture and environment for effective teamwork. Every employee has strengths and weaknesses; this is one good reason why there should be effective teamwork in every organization. It promotes growth as employees can learn from each other’s strengths. An organization that promotes a learning culture will benefit from continuous improvement as every employee will gain more skills leading to organizational success.
3. Implement Education and Self-improvement
It is important to promote a learning culture in an organization as it not only improves the current skills of the employees but also prepares them for future changes and challenges. Thus, the workforce becomes agile and is better able to identify areas with room for improvement.
To effectively transform the frontine, management must be committed, approachable and open minded. Management should eliminate fear to increase trust, use on the job training to bolster employee skillset, and include the frontine employees in the transformation process to increase their involvement in continuous improvement projects. As a result, the organization will benefit tremendously as it will have a motivated, satisfied and competent workforce.